This is a continuation of the essay "Unenlightened." 

VI. Clairvoyant Vision 

Soon after leaving the Garden City Waldorf school, I joined a small study group dedicated to studying Steiner’s works. I didn’t stick with it long, though. I think I was still too disoriented, too unfocused. And maybe Mr. Gardner had been right: Maybe I was still too young.

Recently I picked up Steiner’s works again, and for the first time I plowed through their dense paragraphs. In my explorations, I came upon many passages that are undeniably troubling. Waldorfers who have never read these passages are usually shocked when exposed to them. Typically, the possibility that Steiner could have said or written such awful things is summarily denied. Yet the quotations I give in this essay come from books published by Anthroposophical presses — as nearly as possible, these are words straight from Steiner’s mouth or pen.

One roadblock interfered with my recent research. Finding some of Steiner’s works in English translation proved to be nearly impossible. In the end, I ordered a few untranslated books from Germany — and in them I came upon some particularly shocking statements. It is in one of these German-language texts that the following passage appears, dealing with the process by which humanity will proceed to its next evolutionary stage. The process will not be peaceful, Steiner averred. Before humankind can make its intended progress, vigorous measures must be taken to deal with the less-evolved peoples. Racial struggle is an historical necessity: 

“[T]hese things cannot happen in the world without the most violent struggle. White mankind is still on the path of absorbing spirit more deeply into its essence. Yellow mankind is on the path of preserving the [prior] period when the spirit was kept separate from the body, when the spirit could only be sought outside of the physical human being. But the result will have to be that the transition from the fifth cultural epoch [i.e., the present] to the sixth cultural epoch cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas. And world history will consist of those events that will lead to these battles between white and colored mankind, until the great fight between white and colored mankind has been brought about. Future events are frequently reflected in previous events. You see, we stand before something so colossal that, if we regard it through the diverse perceptions of spiritual science, we will in the future recognize it as a necessary occurrence.” [1]

Several parts of this passage — so reminiscent of Fascist thought — merit examination. Whites are progressing as humanity should, Steiner said; whites are becoming increasingly spiritual. “Yellow” humanity is retarding human progress by preserving an earlier period, when spirit had not been properly absorbed in mankind's evolutionary advancement. A mighty clash is inevitable: One strain of humanity or another must prevail, the white or the “colored”. (In a passage I quote, below — from another book I ordered from Germany — Steiner characterizes black as well as yellow races, again in contrast with white. All non-white races, Steiner taught, are backward to one degree or another.) The “cultural epochs” referred to are extended time periods since the sinking of Atlantis. Steiner traced human history back to Atlantis and beyond. We currently live in the fifth epoch since Atlantis went under. Such mythology need not detain, although we should[ note that Steiner frequently asked his followers to accept legends and speculations as firm historical facts. The essential lesson Steiner sought to convey here is that whites must prevail if humanity is to proceed to its next stage of evolution, the sixth cultural epoch. Thereafter mankind can continue its ascent through additional, ever-higher stages.

Because I have made such a point of Steiner’s racism (a point that Anthroposophists strenuously challenge), I should stay with the topic a short while longer. Steiner taught that the external physical characteristics of the various races reflect and even cause those races’ inner qualities. Hair- and eye-color, for instance, have great significance: 

“If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense.... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence. In the case of fair people, less nourishment is driven into the eyes and hair; it remains instead in the brain and endows it with intelligence. Brown- and dark-haired people drive the substances into their eyes and hair that the fair people retain in their brains.” [2] 

Racial differences, according to Steiner, are much more than skin deep. He taught that whites are humanity’s vanguard: 

“On one side we find the black race, which is earthly at most. If it moves to the West, it becomes extinct. We also have the yellow race, which is in the middle between earth and the cosmos. If it moves to the East, it becomes brown, attaches itself too much to the cosmos, and becomes extinct. The white race is the future, the race that is creating spirit.” [3] 

As for races moving and therefore becoming extinct: Steiner had an orderly mind, and his universe was orderly. Everything physical is a manifestation of something supersensory. Changes in any realm reverberate in the others, and changes that originate in error can have severe consequences. Races should stay where they were meant to be, Steiner taught; for blacks to move to Europe, for instance, is deeply wrong. Among many false steps taken by the French nation, Steiner said, was the abominable practice of bringing blacks to Europe from colonies in Africa. The races might mingle as a result, causing white blood to be compromised. Steiner said the following during a faculty meeting at the first Waldorf school: 

The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe ... It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” [4]

To know the Truth, Steiner relied on his organ of clairvoyance rather than on the synapses of a flesh-and-blood brain. He claimed he could clairvoyantly perceive innumerable spirits of all types and descriptions, vast numbers of spiritual “beings” and “facts” and “figures” scattered throughout the heavens and the Earth. When he spoke of such things and left aside questions of superior/inferior human types, his preachments could be inoffensive, even entertaining. Here is a particularly vivid account of clairvoyance at work. The passage shows the rhetorical skill that occasionally enlivened Steiner’s discourses. Although he offers no evidence for any of his assertions, he provides a detailed description in almost cinematic narrative. Logicians would not be swayed, but some other individuals apparently find such passages persuasive.

“If the person devoting himself to the color which covers these physically dense walls were one who had made certain occult progress, it would come about that after a period of this complete devotion the walls would disappear from his clairvoyant vision; the consciousness that the walls shut off the outer world would vanish. Now, what appears first is not merely that he sees the neighboring houses outside, that the walls become like glass, but in the sphere which opens up there is a world of purely spiritual phenomena; spiritual facts and spiritual figures become visible. We need only reflect that behind everything around us physically there are spiritual beings and facts. That which lies at the foundation of the physical objects outside becomes in a certain way visible.... The worlds which surround us spiritually are of many kinds, many different kinds of elementary beings are around us. These are not enclosed in boxes or in such a state that they live in various houses. The law of impenetrability applies only to the physical world.... But they cannot all be seen in the same way; according to the capacity of clairvoyant vision, there may be visible and invisible beings in the same space. What spiritual beings become visible in any particular instance depends on the colour to which we devote ourselves. In a red room, other beings become visible than in a blue room....” [5]

Steiner claimed to employ a highly exact form of clairvoyance, setting him apart as an oracle. His other claimed skills were less exclusive. For instance, he said he frequently rose above the physical plain, returning to the spirit realm to he renew his powers. But he said that almost everyone possesses this capacity. To understand what he meant, we need to fill in some background. As I mentioned earlier, Steiner taught any true human being manifests various nonphysical bodies, including an “etheric” body (a set of life forces), an “astral” body (soul forces), and an “I” (a spark of spiritual selfhood or ego that distinguishes a true human from animals and subhumans). [6] Steiner and all other true humans can revisit the spirit realm because two components of our fourfold nature are able to slip the bonds of earthly existence. The physical body is trapped in the physical realm, and the etheric body stays with the physical body; but the astral body and the “I” are not similarly restricted. Here is one of Steiner’s clairvoyant descriptions of the excursions made by astral bodies: 

“During sleep our astral bodies return to the harmony of the universe again. When we awaken, we bring enough strength with us out of the cosmic harmony into our bodies so that we can go without being in that state for a while. The astral body returns home during sleep and brings renewed forces back into our life when we awaken.... [O]ur astral bodies are part of a world that embraces additional heavenly bodies. During sleep, therefore, we enter a world that encompasses other worlds in addition to our Earth.” [7]

Note that Steiner is talking about a “real” event observed clairvoyantly, not a mere dream. Our higher bodies really leave our lower bodies at night. Steiner and his followers know this. Hence, Steiner could say to his followers: 

“As you know, when we are asleep we are outside the physical and ether bodies with our astral body and ego. The physical and ether body are lying on the couch; with our astral body and ego we are outside them.” [8]

Steiner claimed he could clairvoyantly pierce the mysteries of the universe, which meant that virtually all knowledge was directly accessible to him. He impressed his listeners, for instance, by appearing to know everything that could possibly be known about Christ Jesus, including much information that is not found in the Bible. Steiner said he possessed this information because through his use of clairvoyance he had access to the Akashic record — a supersensible storehouse, imprinted on astral light, of all events, knowledge, memories, feelings, etc., since the beginning of the universe. [9] Various occult traditions refer to the Akashic record (or records: sometimes they are said to be multiple). Individuals aside from Steiner who have claimed to consult the record(s) include Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce. [10] As you might expect, information gleaned from astral light contains many surprises. Steiner’s special knowledge of Christ Jesus, for instance, is surprisingly intertwined with paganism and magic: 

“It is...important that the deeds of Christ Jesus are always seen in relation to the physical sun, which is the external expression of the spiritual world that is received at the point where Christ’s physical body is walking around. When Christ Jesus heals, for instance, it is the sun force that heals. However, the sun must be in the right place in the heavens: ‘That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.’ It is important to indicate that this healing power can flow down only when the external sun has set but still works spiritually.” [11]

Steiner’s utterances can have the effect of phantasmagoria: Our minds make strange leaps — appearances shift and shatter — normal reality fades away. But isn’t that the aim? For many deeply religious people — certainly including Steiner and his devotees — the objective physical universe is virtually without substance, while the invisible spirit realm (which, to one degree or another, may be a fantasy) is their idea of reality. Pause for a moment and contemplate what can happen to the minds of young children when they are educated by adults who distrust objective reality. Suggesting to kids that the real is unreal and the unreal is real is potentially a severe form of psychological abuse. It can unfit children for real life, making them dissatisfied with everything that is possible in the real world, while encouraging them to form impossible yearnings for the otherworldly. (This objection may, of course, be directed to other forms of spiritually-based education in addition to Waldorf education. But our focus here is on Waldorf; we needn't claim to encompass other school systems in our analysis.)

Steiner claimed that his lectures and books were based on his direct personal clairvoyant observations. [12] Certainly he was the author of some of his doctrines. But in fact much of his lore is derivative. He reworked Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, myths, fables, fairy tales — Anthroposophy is largely a systematized compendium of dubious revelations and supernatural conjectures gleaned from around the world. [13] Steiner was particularly influenced by Madame Helena Blavatsky (1831-91), a Russian mystic who was a cofounder of the Theosophical Society. The doctrines of Theosophy are a blend of Eastern and Western religious thought, a blend that found its way into Steiner’s teachings. Even when distancing himself from Theosophy, Steiner expressed his admiration for Blavatsky and much of her theology: 

“One thing can be said of the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Only one who does not understand them can underestimate them. Anyone who finds the key to what is great in these works will come to admire her more and more.” [14] 

Blavatsky claimed to possess psychic powers, which she frequently demonstrated. Eventually, she was attacked in the press for rigging these demonstrations. Following an investigation, in 1885 the London Society for Psychical Research pronounced her a fraud. [15]

Like Theosophy, Anthroposophy incorporates many older forms of mysticism. The creatures described in these mythologies range from the most august to the most base. Steiner proclaimed many such creatures to be perfectly real. His clairvoyance told him so. A single example should be sufficient: goblins: 

“There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth, especially places little touched by living growths, places, for instance, in a mine which have always been of a mineral nature. If you dig into the metallic or stony ground you find beings which manifest at first in remarkable fashion — it is as if something were to scatter us. They seem able to crouch close together in vast numbers, and when the earth is laid open they appear to burst asunder ... The enlightened man knows nothing of them. People, however, who have preserved a certain nature-sense, i.e. the old clairvoyant forces which everyone once possessed...could tell you all sorts of things about such beings. Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man....” [16]

In this passage, as in so many others, Steiner asks us to believe in folk tales, legends, or myths. If you want to simplify the process of evaluating Steiner and his works, you’ll go far by asking yourself a simple question: Can you believe in goblins? This is what Steiner asks of you, to accept as truth what the rational mind dismisses as fantasy, to accept the implausible as solid scientific fact.

For us at the Garden City Waldorf school, Anthroposophy’s devotion to pseudo-information meant that the line between verifiable truth and woolly speculation became blurred. Our school’s small library made space in its scanty collection for books on flying saucers, dragons, yetis, and other undocumented phenomena, generally presented as if they were not merely plausible but almost certainly true. One of our science teachers directed me to ON THE TRACK OF UNKNOWN ANIMALS by crypto-zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans. The author of that tome argues for the probable existence of  numerous fabulous beasts — including various types of apemen. Heuvelmans chastises scientists for failing to credit anecdotal reports about such creatures. To my young mind — and presumably the minds of other Waldorf students — such books seemed conclusive. Of course the world is thronged with fabulous, mythical, legendary beings. Of course science is blind and the mythopoetic imagination sees truly. And thus all the myths we heard and studied in class were confirmed, and we were led farther and farther from a rational appreciation of reality.

— Roger Rawlings

To reach the next section of “Unenlightened”,

please use the following link:

"Compassion and Its Absence"


Our headmaster and his message to my class upon graduation.

— THE PINNACLE (Kansas City: Inter-Collegiate Press, 1964).

The text, difficult to read in the reproduction above, is this:


          For some observers, a special star has shown over your class from its beginning many years ago. And there may be a reason for the protection afforded you by this star of destiny: as genius of your class, it may yet have demands to make of you. It may require something on behalf of mankind, in return for the gifts it has showered upon your tender years.

          As a class, if one may speak at all of a class, you have not been weakened by intellectualism — heaven knows! — nor soured by cynicism. Your appetite for experience is keen. On the whole, you are a building and believing lot, faithful to the best in yourselves and in each other. Life, generally, has been so fair, indeed, that it may be a great while before you find another environment so favorable, another group so congenial.

          My hope and expectation are that, following your star, you will be able to do something to make the world environment pleasanter for those that come after you. If you do not fail to master what now lies before you, I think you will be able later on to bring others a tonic they need.

          The school has helped you gain a sound footing in yourselves. If some of you will use more self-discipline, and others will awaken to real intellectual life, you can now begin to secure for yourselves a footing in the world. Those who persevere will undoubtedly be asked in due course to use their good faith and good cheer to help overcome darkness and dreariness in the lives of their fellowmen.         —  John F. Gardner


It may not be inappropriate for me to add that some of us have awakened to real intellectual life, and have chosen to fight against the darkness, in ways quite different from what Mr. Gardner had in mind. [To see what Anthroposophists mean by real intellect, real thinking, see "Thinking Cap" and "Steiner's Specific". Anthroposophists often use words in unusual ways. According to Steiner, “When we think, we die continually”, and “The intellect destroys or hinders.” Real or corrected intellect, for Anthroposophists, is submissive and uncritical. For, as Steiner said, “[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition.” Or, as Mr. Gardner once wrote, we should steer clear of the “blight of 'critical thinking.'” [17] Anthroposophists believe that real knowledge comes only through clairvoyance.]

Steiner's "clairvoyance" produced 

images such as these,

which can be found today in the colored-glass 

windows of the Goetheanum,

the Anthroposophical headquarters.

Steiner himself drew up the original 

designs for the windows.

[R.R. sketch, 2011.]

"People love the rose because 

— although they do not know this — 

roses take in our very first childhood memories while we sleep."

— Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 

(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 128.

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on a detail in Steiner's. 

My sketch doesn't look much like a rose, 

but then neither does his.]

I didn't know this about roses. Did you?

Either way, this is a nice example of the 

"mystery knowledge" Steiner dispensed.

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on b&w image in the book. 

The globes represent the planets.]

Most readers will struggle with the following, but it is a good example of Steinerspeak. Give it a shot. This is Steiner discoursing on the "I" (the spark of divine individuality that incarnates in modern humans at about age 21): 

"We become conscious of the 'I' in the physical world through the senses. This appears to contradict the fact that a certain point in the etheric head came together with one like it in the physical head during the time of the Atlanteans, and in this way the 'I' entered into the human being. Yet this 'I' was, so to speak, only like a small little skin, a little pocket that sank down into the human being. And the true 'I,' which was spread out through the planets from Saturn to Vulcan, radiated into it. The best symbol is: this little pocket like a mirror into which the true 'I' streams from this string of planets." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), p. 339. 

A hero slaying a (rather small) dragon.

In Steiner's doctrines, the hero who most significantly slays a dragon

is Michael, the archangel of the Sun — 

Michael fights the dragon-demon Ahriman.

See, e.g., "Michael".]

Steiner's vision was chiefly directed beyond the sky. He was "clairvoyant." Anyone interested in Waldorf education needs to decide whether clairvoyance is possible — Waldorf education is based on it and aims at it. [See, e.g., "Clairvoyance" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness". R. R. photo.]

[R.R. sketch, 2009, copying a sketch by Steiner. 
My sketch does not precisely illuminate Steiner's words. 
But, then, neither does his.]

“The earth was once a giant animal which, in keeping with its size, was rather lazy, turning only slowly about its axis in space, but which looked out into space through these dragon birds which were simply movable eyes ... You can comprehend the earth if you imagine it as an animal that has died.” — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 69. 

Another clairvoyant vision: health (above) 

and illness (below).

"The way in which healing processes 

are continuously working downwards

in us calls forth a feeling of pleasure 

in the higher hierarchies [i.e., the gods] ...

They look down and continually feel illness 

arising out of what streams upward in man...." 


(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 172. 

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on the one in the book.]

Rudolf Steiner

[public domain photographs].

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.


A report on life as a Waldorf student

An overview of Waldorf schooling; a far longer version of "I Went to Waldorf", including:

"Unenlightened - Part 2"

"Unenlightened - Part 3"

"Unenlightened - Part 4"

"Unenlightened - Part 5"


"Unenlightened - Part 7"

The formatting at Waldorf Watch aims for visual variety, 
seeking to ease the process of reading lengthy texts on a computer screen. 

Some illustrations appearing here at Waldorf Watch 
are closely related to the contents of the pages 
on which they appear; 
others are not 
— the latter provide general context. 


[1] Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES {The Spiritual Background of the First World War} (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), GA 174b, p. 38, translated by Roger Rawlings, 2010.

I am indebted to Sharon Lombard and Peter Staudenmaier for pointing out startling passages in Steiner’s lectures, including the passage I refer to here. I ordered the above-named book from Germany precisely in order to check the contents of this most objectionable passage. Did Steiner really express such thoughts? He did. 

Essays by Lombard and Staudenmaier are posted at 

[2] Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, VOL. 1. Lectures from 1922 (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), pp. 85-86.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS {On the Life of Human Beings and of the Earth - About the Nature of Christianity} (Dornach: Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 62, translated by Roger Rawlings, 2005. Races become “extinct” when they move to the wrong place, Steiner said, because races tend to have deep spiritual bonds with their allotted places on the earth. 

“To a certain extent the etheric forces emanating from the soil permeate the human organism so that man becomes dependent upon the soil of a particular geographical area.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 74. 

Steiner’s doctrine on this matter is troublingly close to the Nazis’ belief in blood and soil.

This is another passage I confirmed in a German text. There have apparently been significant expurgations in various English-language editions of Steiner’s works. Staudenmaier reports that when Steiner’s HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 2 was published in English by the Anthroposophic Press, a passage including the following words — about novels written by blacks — was omitted: 

“[I]f we give these Negro novels to pregnant women to read, then it won’t even be necessary for Negroes to come to Europe in order for mulattos to appear. Simply through the spiritual effects of reading Negro novels, a multitude of children will be born in Europe that are completely gray, that have mulatto hair, that look like mulattos!” — Rudolf Steiner, ÜBER GESUNDHEIT UND KRANKHEIT (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1994), GA 348, p. 189

Some Anthroposophists have claimed this remark is a joke. If so, it is a “joke” that only a racist would tell or find amusing. But I think the remark is serious, not a stab at humor (of which Steiner’s books and lectures are largely devoid). Considering the magical powers Steiner attributed to art forms such as painting and dance, it seems likely he attributed such powers to literary arts as well.

Steiner’s failure to include aboriginal Americans in the passage from VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE calls for comment. During a seminar for adults held at my Waldorf, a participant quoted Steiner as saying that American Indians had a gift for intuitive ideas. [See Sylvester M. Morey, AMERICAN INDIANS AND OUR WAY OF LIFE (The Myrin Institute Inc. , 1961), p. 6.] Anthroposophist Morey delivered the graduation address to my eighth grade class: He expounded on the differences between red and white Americans, the affinity of the red man for nature, and the influences Indian culture has had on the American character. As he expresses it in his booklet, the underlying difference between Indians and whites is that “The white man has been swept along in the tide of evolution,” whereas the red man evidently has not. [Ibid., p. 17.] This is Steiner’s basic rationale for asserting the superiority of the white race.

Steiner himself spoke of American Indians. For instance: 

"We have before us in the American race a primitive aboriginal people that has remained far, far behind, among other things in regard to its religious worldview ... But the Europeans have ascended to a higher level of culture, while the Indians have remained behind and become decadent." —Rudolf Steiner, MENSCHHEITSENTWICKELUNG UND CHRIST-ERKENNTIS {Mankind and Christ Knowledge}, GA 100, pp. 243-44; provided by Peter Staudenmaier.

A sad irony is that the stress Steiner placed on race has no foundation in fact. Scientists working on the human genome project have discovered that all human beings “are more than 99.9% genetically identical [proving that] race has almost no biological validity.” Another recent finding is that “a tiny genetic mutation...largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago.” The mutation “involves a change in just one letter of DNA code out of 3.1 billion letters in the human genome....” — Rick Weiss, “Scientists Find a DNA Change That Accounts for White Skin,” THE WASHINGTON POST, Dec. 16, 2005, p. A01.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 558-559.

For more on these matters, including Steiner's views on race mixing or exogamy, see "Steiner's Racism".

[5] Rudolf Steiner, lecture given on October 15, 1911, quoted in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER, by John Fletcher (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 95.

[6] Steiner’s delineation of man’s component parts can be found in lecture after lecture. An early and striking example, from a lecture he gave in 1907, can be found in THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 22-25. Steiner took terms such as “etheric body” and “astral body” from Theosophy; later he sometimes used different tags, such as “life body” or “sentient body.” Bear in mind that Steiner also spoke of other human components beyond the four "bodies." [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts". Also Sharon Lombard, “Spotlight on Anthroposophy,” CULTIC STUDIES, Vol. 2, No. 2.] 

[7] Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 68.

[8] Rudolf Steiner, THE DESTINIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF NATIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), p. 213.

[9] See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL: From the Akashic Record.

Also see "Akasha".

[10] See, e.g.,  and .

[11] Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN: The Evolution of Individuality (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), pp. 65-6.

Steiner associated Christ with the Sun and Jehovah with the Moon. 

“From the Moon, Jahveh [i.e., Jehovah] reigned over the heart and soul of the Jewish people...” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 203. 

Christ makes possible New Testament thinking whereas “Old Testament thinking” and Jewish intellectualism lead to the “atheistic science of the modern world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), p. 33.

Anti-Semitic tradition describes Jews as parasites. [See, e.g., “Anti-Semitism,” Richard T. Schaefer, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RACE, ETHNICITY, AND SOCIETY (SAGE, 2008), p. 79.] The Moon may be considered a parasite of the Sun, in that it creates no light of its own by “steals” light from the Sun. Occultist anti-Semites therefore associate Jews with Moon forces. 

“[T]his 'lunar' view has strong links to the tradition of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semites said that Jews were especially linked to intellectualism which they abhorred. They also wrote that the moon was a 'parasitical' heavenly body, merely reflecting the sunlight. In this way, they wrote, 'lunar' Jews were also 'parasites'.” — Toos Jeurissen, “Waldorf Salad with Aryan Mayonnaise??” 

[12] Steiner said the following, for example:

[T]he purpose of this book is to depict some portions of the supersensible world ... It is only through knowledge of the supersensible that our sense-perceptible ‘reality’ acquires meaning ... In compiling this book, I have included nothing I cannot testify to on the basis of personal experience in this field. Only my direct experience is presented here.”— Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), pp. 7-8.

But of course Steiner drew on multiple here-and-now, earthly sources. For a summary, see "Steiner’s 'Science'". The following endnotes are also relevant.

[13] Here is a quick survey of just a few of the derivative terms and concepts found in Steiner’s books and lectures. 

◊ Karma is originally a Hindu concept. 

◊ Reincarnation is a belief shared by Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. 

◊ Ahriman was introduced to the world by Zoroaster.

◊ Vulcan was originally the Roman god of fire.

◊ The legend of Atlantis began with Plato. Lemuria, or Mu, was an even more ancient lost continent, a notion rooted in Polynesian lore.

◊ In classical mythology, Lucifer (or Phosphorus) was the herald of the dawn; Christians later adopted “Lucifer” as the name for Satan as he was before man’s fall. 

◊ Etheric bodies and astral bodies are Theosophical concepts. 

◊ Other Theosophical concepts Steiner adopted include nature spirits (derived originally from pagan nature worship) and root races. 

◊ The four humours were first conceived by the ancient Greeks. 

◊ In occult tradition, the Akashic records are written on Akasha, a universal ether or astral light, which mediates clairvoyance. 

◊ In Western folklore, goblins are mischievous or malicious sprites; gnomes are deformed goblins living underground and guarding treasures. 

◊ The War of All Against All is a conception of Thomas Hobbes, referring to the state of humanity before the institution of civil government; Steiner used the term for a future apocalypse.

◊ The Guardian of the Threshold comes from the novel ZANONI (reprinted by Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1971). 

◊ Steiner’s pantheon is inhabited by beings taken from Norse myths and similar sources.

[For much of this information, I am indebted to the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA at .]

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke ties several of these threads together: 

“Rudolf Steiner...a pivotal figure of twentieth-century esotericism...blended modern Theosophy with a Gnostic form of Christianity, Rosicrucianism, and German Naturphilosophie.” — RUDOLF STEINER (Western Esoteric Masters Series), anthology edited by Richard Seddon (North Atlantic Books, 2004, general editor's preface by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke), p. 7. 

Goodrick-Clarke, a professor at the University of Exeter, is the author of several books on occult and esoteric subjects. Gnosticism, a heresy, is built on the notion that redemption depends on esoteric knowledge of God. Rosicrucianism, dating from the 17th and 18th century, entails mysticism and alchemy. The form of Naturphilosophie, or nature philosophy, that influenced Steiner most was promulgated by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, whose tenets include the idea that nature tends toward spirit, that the existence of nature shows the existence of the divine, and that man aspires to equality with God or the gods. 

“Suddenly, in place of the old rationalistic philosophy there appears in Schelling a real awakening of the ancient philosophy of the gods of mythology, a reawakening of the old gods ... I myself again and again returned to Schelling.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, IV (Rudolf Steiner Press; digitalized by University pf Michigan), p. 94.

Anthroposophists often cite the work of other mystics and thinkers as confirmation: Steiner must be right, because his work contains themes and patterns also found elsewhere. But Blavatsky and Steiner specifically sought to sweep up elements from multiple sources, working to affirm apparent parallels and to reconcile very real contradictions. The recurrence of various themes and patterns in sundry traditions may reflect underlying truths, or it may simply reveal the process of borrowing and mutual influence, as well as the unconscious predispositions of human psychology. Steiner’s work naturally reflects the sources from which he drew, but often the results are discordant, as in his effort to reconcile reincarnation and Christianity.


[14] Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY: An Eyewitness View of Occult History (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 107.

[15] ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, "Helena-Blavatsky." 


"With the aid of Col. Henry Olcott, she founded in New York, in 1875, the Theosophical Society ... In order to gain converts to Theosophy she was obliged to perform miracles. This she did with a large measure of success, but her 'methods' were on several occasions detected as fraudulent." — Lewis Spence, AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF OCCULTISM (Dover, 2003), p. 73.

For an entertaining but balanced account, see MADAME BLAVATKSY’S BABOON: Theosophy and the Emergence of the Western Guru, by Peter Washington (Secker & Warburg, 1993), which includes multiple references to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy. (A review of the book in the LIBRARY JOURNAL (Feb. 1, 1995) said, “While [Washington] makes no attempt to hide his complete skepticism, his presentation of both the personalities and teachings are fair and historically accurate.”)

Blavatsky’s major work is THE SECRET DOCTRINE, published in two volumes (Theosophical University Press, reprint edition, 1999).

[16] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS. Lectures from 1908-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-3.

Steiner refers to the "enlightened man." The term “enlightened” is tricky. When the term refers to the Enlightenment or its values, it connotes rationality. (The Enlightenment was a European movement, in the 17th and 18th centuries, that rejected tradition in favor of reason and individualism. Modern Western societies generally embody the values of the Enlightenment.) But religionists often use the same word in the opposite sense: They apply it to those who have “seen the light,” i.e., become devotees. In the statement of Steiner’s quoted here, the former definition applies. Steiner is not saying that he or his followers know nothing of the topic under discussion. Indeed, Steiner claims to know all about it; he argues that “enlightened” people, i.e. rationalists, are the ignorant ones. “[T]he enlightened man knows nothing of them” whereas people with “clairvoyant vision” — including Steiner — supposedly possess superior (nonrational) knowledge. In brief: Steiner set himself up in opposition to rational enlightenment.

[17] Bernard Heuvelmans, ON THE TRACK OF UNKNOWN ANIMALS (Hill and Wang, 1959. (A review in SCIENCE — Nov. 6, 1959 — called the book shallow and added “The already great gullibility of the reading public will be increased by the book”). Included is a chapter on the “Congo dragon” as well as references to the Loch Ness monster and sea-serpents (one of which may have been spotted in a lake near the Congo dragon’s present-day haunts!). Heuvelmans generally stopped short of claiming that any “unknown” animals actually exist (since that would make the animals “known”), but he argued that reports of them are more than simple errors or lies. Concerning the Congo dragon, Heuvelmans wrote:

“Assuming it is a reptile, what kind is it? In outline it is certainly like a dinosaur; that one can hardly deny.” — p. 477.

My memory on the following point is wobbly: Our school’s books on flying saucers may have included one or more by George Adamski, who claimed to have seen a surprising number of spacecraft from other worlds. Adamski was considered credible by many people because of his address: Mt. Palomar. The world's largest telescope in those days perched on Mt. Palomar. However, Adamski was not an astronomer and he had no access to the giant Palomar telescope. He kept body and soul together as a short-order cook (and, later, as an author of UFO books). I definitely remember that at one point there were at least two UFO books in our library. 

Steiner's followers are sometimes quite willing to believe in flying saucers, although they generally say that saucers are not spaceships from other worlds. From an Anthroposophical reference book, we learn this:

"Flying Saucers [are] technically described as U.F.O.'s, or unidentified flying objects. There is general agreement about the saucer shape with three spherical supports beneath. Sound evidence can be found for the existence of these unheralded objects...." — THE STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 85.

A later edition of this book modifies this view somewhat: 

"Flying Saucers [are] technically described as U.F.O.'s, or unidentified flying objects. However, after thousands of sightings the world over, the famous saucer shape (once universally regarded as its only design) has now been discovered to be but one style among a number. Sound evidence for the prevalence of U.F.O.'s has been presented by some contemporary astronomers...." — THE STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 102.

Some Anthroposophists argue that flying saucers are spiritual beings or objects misinterpreted by the uninitiated. They also say that belief in saucers as physical objects is a delusion promoted by the enemies of human spiritual evolution:

“[S]ome people may be experiencing the first beginnings of the new clairvoyance [foreseen by Rudolf Steiner], without understanding what is happening. Through this lack of understanding, through a materialistic outlook, what should be true imaginative pictures of the etheric realm may well be distorted and clothed in images of physical objects — flying saucers and ‘little men’ ... [M]any of the UFO’s are real phenomena. But they need not be solid objects. Certainly they are not space-craft from other planets. We are not being watched nor visited by physical space men. The important thing to realize is that what we are experiencing in our time is the powerful activity of adverse spiritual forces which seek to bring about a state of fear and bewilderment. We need to be awake to the fact that it is an attempt to distract and confuse man, and to divert him from his true task, which is a new spiritual development, an attainment of higher faculties [through] a deeper study of Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Science.” — Georg Unger, FLYING SAUCERS: Physical and Spiritual Aspects (New Knowledge Books, 1971), pp. 35-41.

[18] “When we think, we die continually”: Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 56.

“The intellect destroys or hinders”: Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 233.

“[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition": Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 60.


The “blight of 'critical thinking'”: John Fentress Gardner, THE EXPERIENCE OF KNOWLEDGE (Waldorf Press, 1975), p. 127.

[R. R., 2010.]